Williams returns to Saguache County

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Saguache County Clerk's office, with Clerk Carla Gomez and staffers Jane Whitten and Trish Gilbert. (SOS photo/Chris Johnson)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at the Saguache County Clerk’s office, with Clerk Carla Gomez and staffers Jane Whitten and Trish Gilbert. (SOS photo/Chris Johnson)

What do you do when your experienced elections director resigns in July and you need lots of help for November?

If you’re Saguache County Clerk Carla Gomez you rely heavily on the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Gomez repeatedly praised the SOS elections staff when Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his administrative assistant, Chris Johnson, visited her and her three staffers Friday in Saguache.

“We were very glad to see him in this remote location, especially that he would visit during the busy election season,” she said.

Gomez singled out for praise several people in the Colorado Secretary of State’s election division, including Dwight Shellman, Ben Schler, Vicky Stecklein, Ryan Schriner and Danny Casias.

“Oh my gosh,” Gomez said. “They all have been really good and really patient about answering questions from us. We are just so grateful.”

Williams’ trek to Saguache County is part of his effort to visit all of the state’s 64 counties since he took office January 2015. Earlier in the week, he visited Otero, Crowley and Lincoln counties.

The towns in Saguache County are Saguache, the county seat, Crestone, Moffat and Bonanza. The name “Saguache” is derived from the Ute language and usually is pronounced “sa-watch.” Gomez said the most common mispronunciation is “sa-gucci.”

Williams is no stranger to Saguache County.

While serving as the El Paso County clerk and recorder, he was selected to run a recall election in 2012 prompted by what The Denver Post called a “bungled” election in 2010 in Saguache County. In separate races, Republicans were winning on election night but lost days later to incumbent Democratic opponents. The results were reversed due to what the clerk Melinda Myers said were honest mistakes and problems with voting equipment.

Myers’ race was one of those reversed, showing she won and Gomez, the Republican challenger, lost.  During the special election, voters recalled Myers and elected Gomez.